Quota for Revolucionaries, or “If you have to do it, you have to do it.” / Miriam Celaya

University of Havana. Photograph from the Internet

If someone had told us in the distant 70’s that the day would come when attendance at a march or other event in support of the revolution would be guaranteed by assigning quotas, I’m sure we would have made a face, incredulous. However, what back then would have been unthinkable is today a palpable reality.

Just a few days ago, the official press announced the forthcoming implementation of a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution and the victory at Bay of Pigs to be held on April 16th with the massive participation of children and the young in the municipalities of Havana “on behalf of the Cuban people.” What the press did not report is they had begun a process of selection in primary schools, secondary technical schools and colleges days before, pledging a fixed number of potential participants to ensure a respectable attendance at the event. A similar process has been taking place at universities and workplaces, where grassroots committees of the UJC (Communist Youth League) have had to mandatorily meet a quota to pay tribute at the parade. This is not really very difficult, given that the capital has a population of two million people and the event will begin with a military parade, which will swell the march.

It seems clear that the authorities know the lack of spontaneity of “the people” when holding the ceremonies of the revolutionary anniversaries. In previous years, many study centers were not limited to collecting lists of the disposition of their young to march in different events, but they were coerced into taking part in the ritual using resources previously unimaginable. For example, the School of Stomatology used a procedure sui generis for a more massive achievement at the March of the Torches — a fashion reminiscent of the Brownshirts youth of Nazi Germany — which in Cuba ends before the Marti’s Flame. The repressor-wannabes of that university faculty have established, throughout the course of that march, three control points to which each student must report, preventing the classic dispersing into side streets after the young people leave the march starting point: the aforementioned faculty is located at Carlos III and G Streets. I heard that other schools are using the same method as the only resource for the parade to be sufficiently attended.

The procedure for the allocation of quotas has become widespread and in a way that even the repudiation rallies have had to appeal to it. At the March 18th march, the Ladies in White were the target of further harassment by pro-government mobs that prevented a march of remembrance for the crackdown of the Black Spring. The repressive forces were ordered to deploy an operation to block the exit from Laura Pollan’s and Hector Maseda’s house, and from Neptune, a main street. Meanwhile, they arrested several people who were preparing to participate voluntarily and spontaneously in the march.

They also mobilized their hordes of people to keep the participants at bay, hordes that were maintained throughout the day on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th shouting pro-government slogans and yelling insults. To achieve this, they rely on the quota system. This is why every base committee of the UJC at all campuses in the capital and the suburbs had to allocate at least one militant for such an bothersome mission. Since Friday, for example, 18 young CUJAE (Technical University) militants had to guarantee the ones who would concentrate the next morning at Parque Trillo, Centro Habana, to go to “repudiate” outside the home of Laura and Hector. The operation, of course, was a “success.”

According to reliable sources, this has led to the establishment of a sort of lottery, through which militants that are called raffle off “the package.” There are discussions among those who already participated “the last time” and who wield in their defense the phrase “I already did it.” A total aberration of what once was a true and enthusiastic support for the revolution and its leaders.

Having learned about such unorthodox procedures to force young people into shameful practices, I feel even more contempt for the system that turns people into beasts and more compassion for the unaware youths that lend themselves to such a degrading service. Poor rookies, who condemn themselves to have to hide, tomorrow, such a mean and cowardly attitude!

Translated by Norma Whiting

March 21, 2011